April is finally here, a month all cold-climate gardeners look forward to despite all the work that is ahead. After a long cold winter, we are experiencing some unusually warm weather right now which, of course, makes me want to jump right out there and start my spring chores. However I’m trying to remember from past experience not to get too far ahead of myself. We still have a chance of significant cold weather, and yes, even snow. So what am I going to do this month? Here is just a short list of my spring chores.
- Lawn spruce up. For me this is a bit simpler than many of the lawn care sites recommend. My own approach is to disturb the lawn as little as possible. I do not roll the lawn as this just compacts the soil. While I aerate areas that receive heavy traffic I try not to expose too much of the underlying soil to sun & spring rains as I believe this just encourages weed growth. I overseed thin areas but otherwise leave the early spring lawn do it’s own thing.
- This year I promise to apply dormant oil spray to my fruit trees and roses. I seem to miss my window every year but I’m going to try to put that at the top of my to do list this month.
- Re-edge all my garden beds. This is always a large chore every spring as I hand edge all of my beds with a spade. I’ve tried other methods but hand edging seems to give a nice clean edge the longest. I edge fairly deeply, creating about a 3 inch deep trench around the beds. Luckily I got a bit of a head start last fall.
- Another promise to myself — don’t prune too early. Last year I was enticed by the warm weather and pruned some shrubs a little too early and the new growth was then damaged by a late heavy frost. So while I will prune my sandcherries, pee gee hydrangea and a few tree branches, I’ll leave the spireas and boxwoods for later in the spring.
- Start a new vegetable garden. I’ll be adding a new 12 x 15 foot vegetable garden this year. This means moving back some mulch, removing a few shrubs and perennials and improving the soil, all by early May when we hope to plant potatoes in this garden.
- Cut back ornamental grasses and seed-heads from any perennials I did not clean up last fall. I will not remove foliage that is close to the ground until towards the end of the month as the new growth will still need protection from spring frosts.
- My last promise to myself, plant my front urns early with spring bloomers like pansies. I can easily protect three planters from frosty nights and this way will be able to enjoy the spring blooms longer.